Poverty Data Show Rising Need for Community Supports for Student Success

A new report from the U.S. Census Bureau showed a sharp increase of 2.6 million in the number of Americans living below the poverty line ($22,314 for a family of four).  A total of 46.2 million Americans were in poverty in 2010—15.1 percent of the U.S. population.

The percentage is even higher among children—22 percent living in poverty. That’s 16.4 million children, the highest number of American children in poverty since 1993.

Here in Texas the picture is still worse.  According to an analysis by the Center for Public Policy Priorities in Austin, in 2010 18.4 percent (or 4.6 million) of Texans were living in poverty, up from 17.3 percent (or 4.3 million) in 2009. Not only is the Texas poverty rate higher than the U.S. poverty rate of 15.1 percent, it also grew at a faster rate.

“Some critics like to say that these unacceptable poverty figures are just excuses for problems in our schools. These are not excuses, these are facts,” said AFT President Randi Weingarten.  “Now more than ever we have to face up and deal with the factors both inside and outside schools that affect disadvantaged children and their families.”

Weingarten said part of the answer is to provide wraparound services in schools with the support of public agencies, community groups, and nonprofit organizations. The services needed to counter the consequences of poverty include after-school academic programs, health, dental, and social services, housing counseling and information, job banks, and GED and training programs for parents.